Berlin Loses TWiST Battle Despite Fant-ASS-tic Show

By Claire Adamson |

Friday’s international TWiST battle was a tightly matched contest with London’s more staid startups just getting the edge over Berlin’s three excellent teams.

Featuring slightly more skin than the average pitch contest, Klash, Musicplayr and Kinderfee put on a great show at the Ahoy! co-working space after winning the pre-contest for the chance to represent the innovation and disruption currently happening in the Berlin startup scene.

But it was London startup Tray, a rules engine for email and the last pitch of the evening, that topped the list of both host Jason Calacanis and his sidekick Tyler Crowley. Shhmooze, also from London, came in second with its conference networking tool. The vote for third was split, with Jason choosing the social daring app Klash and Tyler choosing the online babysitting database Kinderfee. Jason noted in his closing statement that Berlin had the edge over London in presentation, despite the fact that none of Berlin’s pitches came from native English speakers.

Before the sun went down,three startups were picked out of eight to go onto the next round by judges Simon Schaefer, Eugene Mizin and David Knight. The pitchfrom  Daan Löning of Kinderfee stood out from the crowd immediately with an excellent delivery that told the audience clearly and concisely what the product was. Klash’s Alessandro Petrucciani blinded the judges by appearing onstage wearing nothing but a Mankini (augmented, to the relief of many and the dismay of a few, by a strategically-placed hat, but which still left little to the imagination from behind) as a demonstration of the social daring app, and Thorsten Luettger of Musicplayr delivered a quiet but well-structured pitch for the online music aggregation service.

Lutz Villalba, who did a wonderful job of organising the event in Berlin, watches the contest

After the judges announced the three finalists, Ahoy! was hooked up to Jason Calacanis in Los Angeles and the live show got underway. Jason opened the show with some good old football banter and a follow-up crack to his last TWiST rant about the Samwer brothers. He told the audience how pleased he was to see so much innovation in the world in the last five years and that he loved the country vs. country format as it added drama to the proceedings.

The three Berlin startups delivered excellent pitches, with Jason loving in particular Kinderfee’s well paced and intelligent performance. Daan told Silicon Allee afterwards that he was happy about Berlin’s standing with London in the competition: “A lot of people in Berlin tend to underestimate London. I know people in Berlin don’t like to hear this, but to be on one level with London is already pretty good. London has an amazing startup scene.”

Thorsten from Musicplayr was up first, presenting the service with a quiet confidence. He said afterwards that he has become adept at fitting the pitch to the format: “We’ve done a lot of pitches but every pitch is different, so it’s a matter of the time format and the format you are presenting.” Jason was impressed with the product, remarking that it needed work but that the value proposition and the innovation was there.

Alessandro’s deadpan pitch for Klash wearing, once again, nothing but the Mankini, had Jason and Tyler in fits of laughter. Both of them commended him on his showmanship, saying that it worked for the pitch because it fitted with the product. Alessandro was nervous beforehand, but relaxed when he saw their reaction to the nudity: “You don’t know how they’re gonna react, and then they react of course by laughing, and then I think OK, lets do it.” He was positive about Klash’s third placing, adding: “We are bootstrapping, every day is hard and every day you lose motivation, but this kind of thing brings you up, makes you feel like ‘wow cool – f**k it, it’s gonna work’.”

The general feeling in Berlin afterwards was that the city had done itself proud, staying true to its attitude and style, and that its three participants had shown more spark than their London counterparts. But the British capital still won – the bare cheek of it!

You can watch the video of event here.

Berlin’s three TWiST finalists, from left: Thorsten Luettger, Alessandro Petrucciani and Daan Löning

The crowd at TWiST